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Increasing Student Achievement in Writing Vince Puzick Literacy Facilitator CSSD-11 September 14, 2007 Writing Across the Curriculum: How All Teachers Can Embed Effective Writing Instruction Into Classroom Practices What do you think? Activity:

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increasing student achievement in writing

Increasing Student Achievement in Writing

Vince Puzick

Literacy Facilitator CSSD-11

September 14, 2007


Writing Across the Curriculum:

How All Teachers Can Embed

Effective Writing Instruction

Into Classroom Practices

what do you think
What do you think?
  • Activity:
    • Writing and writing instruction should be part of classroom practices in all disciplines.
  • On the ½ sheet of paper, list all of the reasons you believe this to be true. You can have a bulleted list, fragments, single words …
  • On the other side, list all the reasons you doubt this to be true.
  • Report out briefly
enduring understandings
Enduring Understandings
  • Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) practices and principles improve writing skills, stimulate higher level thinking skills, and deepen understanding of content.
  • Incorporating writing and writing instruction into classroom practices is “time on task” and allows students to deepen their understanding of content knowledge and/or demonstrate their understanding.
  • With writing tasks authentic to their disciplines, teachers at all grade levels and in all content areas can contribute to the writing achievement of students.
essential questions
Essential Questions
  • How do the key concepts of Writing Across the Curriculum guide classroom practice and shape a school-wide literacy framework?
  • How can classroom teachers embed more writing into their everyday instruction?
  • What kinds of writing are authentic to each content area?
ncte beliefs about the teaching of writing
NCTE Beliefs about the Teaching of Writing
  • Everyone has the capacity to write.
  • People learn to write by writing.
  • Writing is a process.
  • Writing is a tool for thinking.
  • Writing grows out of many different purposes.
  • Conventions are important.
  • Writing and reading are related.
  • Writing and talk are related.
  • Literate practices are embedded in society.
  • Composing comes from many sources.
  • Assessment is complex.
your beliefs about the teaching of writing
Your Beliefs about the Teaching of Writing

Activity 1: Choose one of the 11 NCTE “Beliefs.” Write for five minutes on that belief. What do you find intriguing about it? What questions arise as you explore that belief? Can you challenge it?

Activity 2: Share your writing with a colleague. What connections can you make between the belief you wrote about and the belief/thoughts of your colleague?

Activity 3: Do your beliefs act as barriers to or conduits for incorporating writing into your instruction?

writing across the curriculum
Writing Across the Curriculum
  • When content area teachers incorporate writing in all areas of the curriculum--social studies, math, science, vocational education, business, foreign language, music, art, physical education, and language arts--students benefit in three ways:
    • they deepen understanding of content;
    • they practice a technique which aids retention;
    • and they begin to write better. (Walker, 1988; Kurfiss, 1985)
writing across the curriculum11
Writing Across the Curriculum
  • [W]riting is not added to content, but the content is entered and secured through writing.
  • The development of student writing … is best achieved through substantial time devoted to writing, multiple opportunities to write across the school day and focused instruction that builds from the writers’ efforts.
writing across the curriculum12
Writing to Learn

allows students

to deepen their


to process, and

to reflect on their learning.

There are various

methods to engage

students and stimulate

critical thinking.

Learning to Write

assignments allow

students to demonstrate

their knowledge and


Teachers must use

Direct writing


Rubrics for assessment.

Writing Across the Curriculum
key principles of wac
Key Principles of WAC
  • Writing develops through meaningful practice.
  • Writing is a situated and recursive process.
  • Writing and reading are interrelated.
  • Different writing situations impose different demands.
paragraph writing
Paragraph Writing
  • Take out your “believing/doubting” writing from the beginning of the morning.
  • Choose EITHER side of the ½ sheet. Write one paragraph on the page provided. You have 5 minutes to write the paragraph.
  • Don’t share with a colleague yet.
levels of generality
Levels of Generality
  • “Step Up” on Steroids
  • Forces students to think about “the relationship of ideas” in a paragraph and in an essay
  • Is not “a formula” or “an outline” for paragraph writing.
  • Helps students at the revision stage of the process check for effective development and organization in their paragraphs.
levels of generality20
Levels of Generality
  • Overview of Christensen
  • CSAP Student samples
  • Other examples
  • Moving from paragraph writing to multi-paragraph essay.
  • Revise your paragraph about embedding writing instruction into the classroom.
writing is a process
Writing is a Process






  • On different topics or approaches to a topic
    • several days/homework
    • Quick! -- 10 minutes or so each time
    • Choose one or pick the insights from many to begin drafting
  • Graphic Organizer – or not?
  • Play with ideas
  • Time spent here is an investment
  • Allow students to discuss ideas with peers in class time
  • Add specifics and provide more details
  • Attend to organization – arrange paragraphs and sections of longer writings
  • Specific text structures in different modes of writing and in different content areas
  • Maintain focus throughout the essay
  • Brainstorm ideas for areas that are underdeveloped
  • Recognize the importance of developing ideas more fully and connecting ideas.
  • “Re-vision”
    • See the essay as a “reader” and not a “writer”
    • Revise “locally” –the paragraph level
    • Revise “globally” – the whole structure
    • Peer critique – receive feedback of an informed reader prior to submitting the essay
    • Ensure that the content and structure is finalized before moving on to Editing.
  • Specific focus for in-class workshop:
    • Spelling
    • Major errors (fragments, run-ons, comma splices)
      • Can’t hold kids accountable for what you have not taught
  • Class time spent for peers to provide editing feedback
  • Making the piece “public”
      • Turning it in
      • Sending it off
      • Submitting to a specific audience
during the process
During the Process
  • Peer Review/Critique
    • Structured with specific ‘look-fors’
    • Consistent return to the rubric
  • Writer’s Workshop
    • Differentiated instruction
    • Impact on the student
    • Peer and teacher conferences
  • A portion of class time over “the life” of the assignment (one week? two?)
d11 online curriculum
D11 Online Curriculum

Online Pacing Guides and forthcoming Language Arts Online Curriculum is found here:

developing a school wide framework
Developing a School-Wide Framework

The success of a WAC program…depends

far more on the instructor’s professional

commitment to a style of teaching which

has active learning as its goal rather than

adherence to any particular formula.

learning to write authentic writing
Learning to Write: Authentic writing
  • Authentic assessment aims to evaluate students' abilities in 'real-world' contexts. In other words, students learn how to apply their skills to authentic tasks and projects.
  • Authentic assessment … focuses on students' analytical skills; ability to integrate what they learn; creativity; ability to work collaboratively; and written and oral expression skills.
  • It values the learning process as much as the finished product. (
learning to write authentic writing32
Learning to Write: Authentic writing
  • Task Analysis
  • Modes of writing: descriptive, narrative, expository, persuasive
  • Middle School Pacing Guide:
    • Quarter 1: Narrative writing
    • Quarter 2: Research strand / expository writing;
      • Comparison/contrast, cause/effect, problem-solution, (process) “how to” kind of writings, informative writing,
    • Quarter 3: Persuasive writing
    • Quarter 4: Application of skills (newsletters, brochures, “how to” guides, troubleshooting guides, etc.
learning to write authentic writing33
Learning to Write: Authentic writing
  • Purposes for writing: to describe, to explain, to inform, to persuade
  • Identify the academic writings that students produce in your content area
  • Identify the opportunities for authentic writing in your content area.
  • Identify the intended audiences and purposes for authentic writings in your content area.
learning to write authentic writing34
Learning to Write: Authentic writing
  • In content area groups (by grade level?) identify
    • What major units provide opportunities for paragraph and/or multi-paragraph writing assignments?
    • Identify the academic writings that students produce in your content area
    • What is an authentic audience for the writing – and what is the intended purpose?
    • Draft a writing prompt that will enable students to demonstrate their understanding of the content.
learning to write authentic writing35
Learning to Write: Authentic writing
  • In grade level teams, identify ways that you can reinforce each other’s efforts:
    • If narrative writing is 1st Quarter, are there opportunities in content area other than Language Arts to support writing that is arranged chronologically or tells a story?
    • In Quarter 2, with research/expository writing, how can teams reinforce each other’s efforts without being redundant?
    • In Quarter 3, how can all content areas embed persuasive writing in their instruction?
    • Could there be a collaborative writing assignment that is interdisciplinary for the 4th Quarter?
rubric development
Rubric Development
  • Instructional tool
  • Given at the same time as the assignment / prompt
  • CSAP Analytic rubric
responding to student writing
Responding to Student Writing
  • Not all writing needs to be graded or even responded to by the teacher
  • “Writing to Learn” activities can be shared among classmates, kept in a journal, turned in as an “exit ticket” or “ticket into the room”
  • Classroom expectations need to be established … let students know that the writing is expected to be done but comments/responses may vary
evaluating student writing
Evaluating Student Writing
  • “Learning to Write” assignments must have an accompanying rubric
  • Comment on strengths and weaknesses of the writing
  • Fight the urge – but do not edit or revise a student’s essay
  • Marginal and end comments are necessary
  • Be future-thinking in your comments: what do you expect to see improved in the next essay?
the teaching of writing involves
The “teaching of writing” involves
  • Embedding your Best Instructional Practices in writing in every class
  • Reflecting on your
    • Philosophy about writing
    • Attitude toward writing
    • Classroom environment
  • Considering your approach – what are the benefits / the barriers to writing instruction?